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Dynasty Profile: Darnell Mooney (2022 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Profile: Darnell Mooney (2022 Fantasy Football)

Andrew Erickson Mock Draft

Career Contextualization

Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI) was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of the University of Tulane, where he led the team in catches and receiving yards in his final two seasons. Money made an immediate impact in Chicago in his rookie season of 2020, seeing 98 targets, second on the team to only veteran WR Allen Robinson (WR – LAR). The fact that Mooney could see decent production and volume level was impressive, given the QB tandem of Mitchell Trubisky (QB – PIT) and Nick Foles (QB – FA) for 16 games.

2021 would be much of the same in Chicago, just with a few different names. Head coach Matt Nagy showed how inept he and his coaching staff were, unable to stick with one quarterback through the season. Instead, they floated between first-round draft pick Justin Fields (QB – CHI) and veteran Andy Dalton (QB – NO). While Mooney started the season as the team’s WR2 behind Robinson, a slew of injuries and other factors allowed Mooney to make a considerable leap forward despite the adversity. Mooney would end his sophomore campaign leading the Bears in target share (26.7 percent), targets (140), receptions (81) and receiving yards (1,055). However, of those 140 targets, only 91 were considered catchable.

Current Situation

The 2022 season is a big one for Darnell Mooney. Former head coach Matt Nagy is out, and the new coaching staff has committed to QB Justin Fields moving forward, giving this team some much-needed hope for stability. With Allen Robinson now in Los Angeles, Mooney is the team’s unquestioned WR1.

The front office in Chicago hasn’t signed any skill position players of substance, adding WRs Byron Pringle (WR – CHI), Equanimeous St. Brown (WR – CHI) and Dante Pettis (WR – CHI) in free agency and WR Velus Jones (WR – CHI) in the draft. As a result, Mooney could easily see an increase to his 140 targets in 2021 and an increase in red-zone targets. This puts him in a position to put up even more significant numbers if Fields can make decent progress this season.

General Prediction for 2022 and Rest of Career

With the departure of Robinson, Mooney is in line for another bump up the rankings in 2022. Regardless of how Fields progresses this upcoming season, he should garner a significant percentage of targets. Conversely, Pringle, St. Brown and Pettis are unproven commodities with low upside, fantasy or otherwise. Simply put, Mooney won’t be competing with anyone on this roster for high-value targets. While unlikely to exceed 140 targets by much going forward, he is likely to see a much better catchable ball rate as Fields becomes more comfortable in the NFL.

Looking past 2022, Mooney figures to be in the WR1 conversation for the next three to four seasons. A handful of top-five finishes isn’t out of the question if he can increase his red zone target share with Fields. Mooney is under contract in Chicago through the 2023 season, and if he makes significant waves, he will likely stay with the Bears. However, should Mooney leave Chicago in free agency, his value should hold tight, if not increase, depending on where he lands. Some teams that could be looking to add a WR in 2024 free agency include the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Buffalo Bills. Any of these three teams could increase his fantasy value should he sign with them.

Darnell Mooney’s fantasy stock in both dynasty and redraft is locked in for the foreseeable future. Barring injury, he should provide, at minimum, back-end WR1 value regardless of who his QB is or where he is playing his home games.

CTAs


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Nate Polvogt is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him @NatePolvogt.

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